AZORES ISLANDS


bubble.png

The Azores are a group of nine islands in the Atlantic Ocean and are an autonomous region of Portugal. It is an ultra peripheral area of the European Union.

Latest census data reports just over 250,000 residents live on the islands. Estimates are that more than 2,000,000 emigrants and their descendants live off the islands, primarily in the United States, Canada, Brazil, and mainland Europe.

These volcanic islands are situated in the northern Atlantic, about 1,500 km (950 mi) from the western edge of the Iberian Peninsula and about 3,900 km (2,400 mi) from North America. Seismic activity, though rare, still occurs on occasion.

The Azores islands have a subtropical climate with high humidity and often experience fluctuations in weather patterns.

The official language in Azores is Portuguese. On most of the nine islands, the variety of Portuguese spoken is similar to an archaic form of European Portuguese due to when it was discovered. Each island is an exception and has its own distinct accent. The dialect spoken by many of the inhabitants of the largest island, Sao Miguel, is where the many individuals employ a local "Micaelense" dialect [1] very unlike that found on the Portuguese mainland. In fact, even the people from Mainland Portugal and the other Azorean islands find it difficult to understand them at first. For those visiting the Azores on holiday, however, the good news is that most of the people involved with tourism speak at least enough English to be able to communicate with tourists.

These being volcanic islands, in many places the terrain is steep and rugged. The roads wind around very steep hillsides. Cycling around the islands is possible if you are in great shape, and don't mind a lot of hill climbing.

This is a great place for going around island to island and even town to town by boat. Almost every town is on the shore and most have ports. One of the best known sailing ports in the world is Horta, on Faial Island. There is a large and fully equipped marina that has catered for many famous boats and regattas. The marina is ideally placed in downtown Horta. Some other islands have marinas, like Terceira and São Miguel. Even when a marina is not present many of the larger villages have a harbour suitable for mooring a sailboat or yacht.

The islands are also a resort area, although there is volcanic activity. The United States maintains a NATO air base in Terceira island. 

The Azores may have been known to the ancients and were included on a map in 1351. Portuguese sailors reached them in 1427 or 1431, but colonization did not begin until 1445 under Diogo de Sevilha or Gonçalo Velho Cabral (who may have been there in 1431). During the colonial period, the Azores were a stopover point for treasure fleets returning from the New World, and many ships were lost there due to hurricanes or pirates. The islands were used as a place of exile and were also the site of naval battles between the English and the Spanish. In the 19th cent. they were used by supporters of Maria II against Dom Miguel. In the 20th cent., there has been a